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MWC: Alcatel takes Idol up a notch

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Alcatel has announced the new Idol 4 series of smartphones at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Building on the success of its Idol 3, the Idol 4 and Idol 4S smartphones are claimed to “take everything up a notch” with a new Boom Key and an augmented multimedia experience.

“The Idol 4 series marks another milestone in Alcatel innovation,” said Dan Dery, Chief Marketing Officer at Alcatel. “The Boom Key boom-ifies everything, from the sound to photos to gaming. Something we’re really excited about, and something I’m eager to show my friends is that we’ve augmented Idol 4’s multimedia experience.  A screen that offers a stunning display from any angle, an all-in-one powerhouse audio ecosystem and a professional-caliber camera.”

Alcatel provided the following information:

Boom me up! The Boom Key Delivers Augmented Experience

Boom my camera: Instantly takes photos on standby mode pressing and holding the button puts the camera into burst mode to take photos in quick succession.

Boom my gallery: Artistically shuffles the photos in the gallery for instant sharing as a photo collage or a short slideshow.

Boom my videos: Generates immediate, surprising effects in existing videos, such as replaying the previous one second of the video three times, or changing the playback speed. When a user is recording a video, pressing the Boom Key will immediately broadcast the video live.

Boom my music: Conceived by Alcatel and creatively engineered by Waves, the audio experience is automatically optimized across all media with simply one touch. The bass, loudness and clarity of the sound is enhanced, enriching the whole user experience.

Boom my game: Asphalt fans will love how the Boom Key amps up their race by releasing the Nitro and boosting the car speed. It also boosts the audio experience by increasing the volume and adding spatial sound reproduction.

Boom my view: Creates a more intense 3D effect (parallax UI effect) for the launcher and a stunning, live weather display as part of the home-screen.

Augmented Multimedia: Amped-Up Display, Camera and Sound

The Idol 4, featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, and the Idol 4S, featuring the Snapdragon 652 processor, deliver advanced features and capabilities that allow consumers to experience console-quality 3D gaming, enhanced photography and videography, as well as home theater-quality audio.  These Qualcomm Technologies processors also features an X8 LTE modem and 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity which supports very fast download speeds. Additionally users will be able to enjoy all-day battery life.  Both smartphones  sport displays that provide superb readability even in bright sunlight and clear viewing from any angle using Qualcomm Technologies’ Assertive Display technology. The larger, 5.5-inch Idol 4S offers a 2K AMOLED display, which is super-responsive and low in power consumption.

“Both Snapdragon 617 and 652 processors take processing and power efficiency to new heights and offer advanced features that will enable the great user experiences for Alcatel consumers,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies.  “We are pleased to have worked with Alcatel on the development of their new Idol 4 and Idol 4S series, which will deliver exceptional features.”

Idol 4 series comes with professional-quality cameras offering ultrafast auto-focus (0.1-0.3 seconds), as well as 360-degree photos and selfies. The smartphones also produce crystal-clear shots even in the dark.

For a superior and powerful audio experience, Alcatel teamed up with two well-known audio brands, JBL and Waves.

Other Idol 4 series audio features include two powerful 3.6 watt speakers, Hi-Fi surround-sound for the headset, and optimization of audio presets both automatically and manually, giving users a powerhouse sound. The J22 JBL headphones employ high-performance drivers and a high quality microphone is included to enable the end-user to enjoy on-the-go phone conversations.

The pre-loaded Onetouch Music app offers users an all-in-one music ecosystem, which lets them discover new music, mix online or local tracks, remix, as well as play and browse featured playlists.

Augumented Reversibility: Up, Down and All Around

IDOL 4 and IDOL 4S are reversible in three ways. The interface rights itself no matter if the users picks it up right side up or upside down. In addition, it is reversible left to right: stereo sound is always on the correct side, even when the phone is flipped. And the strategically placed speaker grille ensures that sound is unobstructed, whether the phone is facing up or turned over.

Augumented Reality: Part of the Idol 4 Experience

Last but not least: The Idol 4S’s innovative packaging design transforms into a pair of virtual reality goggles which, when combined with the smartphone, becomes the portal for users to enter the world of immersive 360-degree viewing and gaming. Virtual reality content such as videos and games can be downloaded onto the device from the Onetouch VR Store, a built-in app to easily access saved virtual reality content or streamed in realtime via LittlStar.

Finely Crafted Design

Idol 4 and Idol 4S will be offered with four different metal frames: Gold, Dark Gray, Rose Gold and Metal Silver. The front glass touch panel and glass back cover give the phones a premium look and feel. The Idol 4 series’ slimness (6.9 mm), metal frame and in-mold spin-effect texture add to its finely crafted, luxurious design.

 

 

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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